EDITORIAL: Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs

It’s been said the two certainties in life are death and taxes. But these days, there’s also the certainty of silly regulations creeping into every corner of your life. Apparently, that now includes your front yard.

As Hotair.com’s Jazz Shaw reported, the town of New Canaan, Conn., recently saw its Board of Realtors pass a ban on “For Sale” signs in front of homes. Local officials say that, in the internet and smartphone era, the signs are no longer necessary and are now considered eyesores.

There’s an obvious First Amendment issue here. The New Canaan ban begins a six-month trial on July 1, after which the board will reassess whether to make it permanent. However, any seller choosing to challenge the ban on its constitutionality would likely have a winning case.

The justification for the prohibition seems odd. Mr. Shaw notes that, while many prospective homebuyers do a great deal of research online, almost no one buys a home as a result of that alone. Most buyers want to get the in-person feel of the home and the surrounding community, lending importance to “For Sale” signs guiding buyers as they scout out the area.

But perhaps there’s something more going on here. One of the town’s residents might have given away the game when he complained about the signs in a report by CBS’ New York City affiliate: “The amount of them,” he said, “is giving buyers an idea that this entire town is for sale.”

So why would there be so many “For Sale” signs in the town of 20,000, located 50 miles outside New York City? A contributing factor, arguably the biggest factor, is that Connecticut ranks second-worst in the nation for its state and local tax burden, behind only its neighbor, New York. Mr. Shaw points out that, beyond their federal income tax obligations, Connecticut residents lose 12.6 percent of their income to state and local levies.

What the Board of Realtors likely abhors is the fact that people are voting with their feet via those “For Sale” signs. A USA Today report notes Connecticut rates fourth in the nation among states with the largest exodus of residents. Fellow high-tax, progressive havens Illinois, New Jersey and New York occupy the top three spots.

So rather than face the underlying issue, the board has opted for an out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach: No signs, no problem! If that’s the prevailing logic, then watch for our neighbor California to soon follow suit. As Mr. Shaw points out, a March CNBC report found that, thanks to high taxes and housing costs, more people are moving out of the Golden State than moving in.

Here’s a more promising approach: Lower out-of-control tax rates and maybe so many people won’t want to flee places such as New Canaan, Conn., thereby helping curb “For Sale” sign blight.

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